Ellen Ensher discusses the application of an action learning project that enables mentors and protégés to work on a project together and provide examples of past action learning projects and framework for developing these types of projects.
- People learn well by doing and teaching others. Action learning is when proteges and mentors create a mutually beneficial work related project that has a specific deliverable. Action learning projects can serve as a glue binding mentors and proteges together. Three benefits of action learning include: 1. Gives mentors and proteges a thing to focus on in the form of a specific project to work on together.
2. Remedies the mid-mentoring program blahs, where sometimes mentors and proteges run out of momentum. 3. Results in a deliverable that can be shared and measured. Action learning projects can be as diverse as are the interests of your mentoring program participants. They can be based around strengths a protege needs to develop, like, say, presentation skills. Or they can be based around something a mentor wants to get done but just never has the time or resources to make progress on.
To get started in developing action learning projects, do the following. First, ask your mentors to review their own to-do lists and consider making some of the lingering items on their to-do lists into action learning projects. Also, ask the protege, what are they interested in learning about or what skills do they want to develop in their field. Then, have the mentors and proteges come together with ideas and brainstorm their action learning projects.
Here are a few samples of action learning projects from a past health care client. Write an article together for C-suite executives on what defines quality in health care. Make a presentation on how the Affordable Healthcare Act impacts projected revenue. Organize a fundraiser for ALS research. Ideally, each mentor and protege will have a unique action learning project that can be completed within the confines of your program.
I encourage you to conclude your program with an action learning showcase to celebrate the work and success of your pairs. I use action learning with nearly all of my students and clients. It can transform an average mentoring experience into something amazing.
- The benefits of formal mentoring programs
- The types and purpose of mentoring programs
- Designing a framework and a needs assessment
- Creating a mentoring culture
- Ensuring organizational support
- Choosing participants
- Training essentials for mentors
- Concluding and celebrating your program
- Evaluating your program
- Making your mentoring program last